Former Jets defensive lineman Dennis Byrd, who was left partially paralyzed by an on-field collision and later re-gained the ability to walk, was killed in a car crash on Saturday at the age of 50 the Associated Press confirmed.
Fox23 in Oklahoma reports that a 17-year-old male drifted left on the road and collided head-on with Byrd’s car, leaving him dead at the scene and a 12-year-old passenger with minor injuries.
Byrd had his jersey, No. 90, retired by the Jets in 2012. The team named its Most Inspirational Player Award in his honor after he walked to the center of the field to represent the Jets in a coin toss in 1993.
SI’s Peter King profiled Byrd back in 1992.
Jets owner Woody Johnson issued the following statement late Saturday:
“We are all devastated by the untimely loss of Dennis Byrd. Soft-spoken and strong-willed, the inspiration he provided to all not only by his play on the field but from the way he overcame life’s obstacles was remarkable by any measure. His impact on the New York Jets and the many lives he touched will never be forgotten.”